US stocks retreat before CPI, retail sales, existing home sales data

US stocks declined after disappointing forecasts from several company earnings reports while investors focused on a speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke amid consumer price index, retail sales and existing home sales data which is due today.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.2% to 1,787.87 at 4 p.m. in New York. On Monday, the benchmark briefly surpassed 1,800 for the first time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 8.99 points, or less than 0.1%, to 15,967.03. About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, about 3% below the three-month average.

“Without a lot of economic numbers to trade on, the market has been trading sideways for the most part,” said to Wall Street Journal, Stephen Carl, head of US equity trading at Williams Capital Group in New York. “There is no real conviction on one side or the other,” he said.

The Fed should release minutes of its October policy meeting today. The document would shed more light on details behind the decision to press on with $85 billion in monthly asset purchases.
Policy makers will probably pare that pace to $70 billion at their March 18-19 meeting. Three rounds of monetary stimulus have helped boost the S&P 500 up 165% from a bear-market low in 2009.

In corporate news, Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car maker under an investigation by U.S. auto regulators, added 3.7% to $126.09, rebounding from a 10% decline yesterday. Craig Irwin, an analyst with Wedbush Securities Inc., said the probe was “entirely expected” and may be positive as it’s likely to lead to an independent confirmation of credibility of the company’s design.

Best Buy lost 11% to $38.78. Sales were little changed at $9.36 billion in the period ended November 2, trailing the $9.37 billion analysts estimated on average.

Salesforce.com Inc. fell 5% to $52.74. The biggest maker of customer-management software forecast fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share at most. Analysts on average estimated 7 cents.

Home Depot gained 0.9% to $80.38. The one-and-a-half year gain in the U.S. housing market is giving consumers the confidence they need to remodel kitchens and bathrooms. The number of transactions in the quarter increased 4% to 344.3 million while the average purchase climbed 3.2% to $56.27, Home Depot said.

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